While many place classic comic books in the domain of nerds and geeks, comic book movies have been appropriated by the mainstream audience and transformed into big-time Hollywood blockbusters.
This summer’s blockbuster hit “The Avengers,” is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray today.
Films based on comic books have always been around. Since the first Saturday morning series of Captain Marvel in the 1940s, superhero stories have enjoyed an essentially unbroken run in a myriad of mediums.
Recently, the trend has shifted towards a gritty, dark portrayal of the classic superhero stories. One needs only to look at the massive success, both financially and critically, of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” franchise to see that.
Perhaps this is why “The Avengers” feels like such a breath of fresh air.
The "Marvel Cinematic Universe’ franchise is currently composed of six films starring Marvel characters – “Iron Man” (2008), “The Incredible Hulk” (2008), “Iron Man 2” (2010), “Thor” (2011), “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) and “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012).
These Marvel films might be distinguished from their recent DC Comics competitors (but only Nolan’s “Batman” films and “Watchman” because it would be best for everyone if “Jonah Hex” and “The Green Lantern” never existed) by one simple characteristic: the Marvel films are fun.
This says nothing about the quality of the movies — good luck to any superhero movie trying to outdo “The Dark Knight” — but simply acknowledges the fact that, where Batman lives on precision and self-discipline, Tony Stark is essentially a walking innuendo.
It is remarkable how these two extremes are blended together so well.
After all, comic book stories feature super-humans, mutants, and god-like supernatural beings. It would be all too easy for the movie to go down the disastrous route of “The Green Lantern,” where the audience is definitely laughing, but not for the right reasons.
“The Avengers” is the best Marvel classic so far; it takes a truly absurd storyline and makes it believable with excellent characters, a tight script and jaw-dropping scenes.
And this is all while allowing Robert Downey, Jr. to get in at least one punch line per scene.
“The Avengers” was written and directed by Joss Whedon, the geek favorite who created cult shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and the cruelly brief “Firefly.”